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Pullen does disservice to GOP with stance on tax hike

Will the Republican Party remain the low-tax, limited-government party of Ronald Reagan?  Or will it abandon its limited-government principles and become the “tax collector for the welfare state,” following the Democratic Party around to raise taxes to pay for ever-increasing tax-and-spend government.

Many expected some Northeastern politicians to call for the restoration of Rockefeller Republicanism – a big-government party competing with the really-big-government party.  No one expected the challenge to Reagan Republicanism to erupt in the home state of Barry Goldwater: Arizona.

Yet it is in Arizona that a state Republican Party chairman has stood with the tax hikers against Republican legislators in their efforts to pass a tax-hike-free state budget that begins to slow the runaway growth of the Janet Napolitano years.

Worse, the Republican Party chairman and the Republican governor appear to be behind a campaign by lobbyists for big spending interests to attack principled Republicans with money raised from those special interests that would benefit from even more government spending and taxes.

What in the world – what in Arizona – is going on?

It has been widely reported that the firm HighGround Inc., a group that advises Gov. Jan Brewer, has begun a $225,000 media campaign against a number of legislators who oppose Brewer’s calls for a multi-billion dollar tax increase in the middle of a recession.

The governor has made clear that this campaign, which targets fiscally conservative legislators from her own party, has her administration’s full-throated support. Where does the Republican Party stand?  Why the silence from Randy Pullen, party chairman, who should be leading the fight against this tax hike?

Pullen stood next to Brewer when she demanded a billion dollars a year in tribute from Arizona taxpayers. If you write a check to the Republican Party of Arizona, are you funding a campaign for tax increases or the fight against tax increases?

As an important election year approaches, it is shocking that Gov. Brewer is supporting a campaign that will attack members of her own party due to nothing more than their steadfast defense of Arizona taxpayers.

Several months ago, Americans for Tax Reform asked Arizona Republican Party staff if rumors of a campaign to target Republican legislators were true and if such an effort would be supported or opposed by the Arizona Republican Party. That inquiry, disturbingly, was met with silence by Pullen and his staff.

The lack of transparency regarding the Republican Party’s stance on the pro-tax-hike campaign prompted my June 4 letter to Pullen. In that letter I asked him to unequivocally and publicly announce his opposition to and repudiation of this campaign.

It is no secret that Pullen has close ties to those behind the aforementioned campaign. This is highly troubling given his duties as chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and Republican National Committee treasurer.

Opposition to higher taxes is a long-held and central tenet of the Republican Party. The Republican National Committee endorsed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written commitment that 30 Arizona lawmakers have made to their constituents to oppose and vote against “any and all efforts to raise taxes.”

In fact, Gov. Brewer herself signed the pledge in 2006. Unfortunately for Arizona taxpayers, some politicians want the political advantages that come with signing the pledge as a candidate but don’t care to live up to it once in office. The good news is that voters can and will hold pledge breakers accountable every election cycle – just ask George H.W. Bush.

The Grand Canyon State does not have a $3 billion deficit. Arizona has a $3 billion overspending problem, and there is much fat to be cut.

Fiscal profligacy reigned supreme during the Napolitano years with general fund spending rising at double the rate of population and inflation. According to the Center for Fiscal Accountability, Arizona taxpayers already spend 194 days – more than half the year – working just to pay for the cost of government. Yet Gov. Brewer and the rent-seekers that advise her don’t think this is enough.

Some elected officials view taxpayers, rather than spending interests, as their constituents. Americans for Tax Reform commends those elected officials like Sens. Pamela Gorman, Russell Pearce, Ron Gould, and Jack Harper, who work for taxpayers rather than against them.

ATR encourages Randy Pullen to take the real “high ground” in this fight and denounce and combat the campaign against members of his party who are standing up for taxpayers.

-Grover G. Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.

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